JP works specifically with veterans and first responders, using diving as a tool to help those who, through service to their country or communities, suffered from PTSD, depression and suicidal ideation. Discover the why's and the how's of this extraordinary therapy.
JP has been a diver since 1991, with diving having been the one constant through several careers including his service with Queensland Police, State Emergency Services, South Australia’s Sea Rescue Squadron and training with the Australian Army’s 8/9 Royal Australian Regiment. With diving having become a central part of his life, JP eventually became a dive Instructor, teaming up with SDI TDI and Scubapro to create a unique training organisation offering bespoke courses through the Diving Veterans and First Responders Program (DVFRP).
Having been involved in thousands of fatal road incidents, violent crimes, rescues, recoveries, death investigations and suicides, including three years as a Coroner for South London, JP developed a passion for supporting those he worked alongside. Those that through service to their country and their communities, suffered from PTSD, depression and suicidal ideation. Early in JP’s diving career he discovered a phenomenon, perhaps what some might now term mindfulness, something that he believed was personal to him as he struggled to explain it clearly to those that didn’t dive and those who hadn’t served. For him, diving offered complete peace, a distraction from the constant noise in his head, a ‘reset’ as he terms it, a feeling of being ‘clean’ every time he came out of the water. It was this personal discovery that led JP to believe that diving could be a sanctuary for other Military and First Responder Veterans, as well as those who were currently serving, their friends and families, who either suffered from trauma or who might benefit from diving as part of their greater wellbeing. Perhaps diving could even offer a means to avoid the battles that raged so violently within his friends and colleagues, and which so often led to them taking their own lives.
DVFR has been born out of JP's infectious energy and sincere passion about looking out for his mates. The program was created specifically to provide support, a place 'to be' and most importantly a purpose for those who had or were preparing to separate from service. DVFR members, friends and family, often share a collective trauma wherein the road to recovery can be supported through the wide range of social and diving benefits of the DVFR community. DVFR allows members and the wider community to access a supportive social network which provides the perspective of lived experience through social events, introductory scuba experiences and formal diving qualifications from SDI Open Water to TDI technical diving training. DVFR has grown from a small team into a strong community of over 100 members in just two years and is looking to expand into new states and territories over the coming year.
JP now has his eyes set firmly on a PhD into the quantifiable benefits of scuba diving for those suffering with PTSD and depression, hoping to provide a more concrete explanation for the phenomenon he first experienced in the underwater world. JP works with a truly amazing team of dedicated volunteers drawn from the Military, Police, Fire, Paramedicine, Nursing and civilian fields, both in and out of the water, to develop programs, scuba courses and opportunities to benefit those who dedicate their lives to serving others. To quote both JP and an ever-growing group of those around him, “diving saved my life”; it's as simple and as serious as that.